What if Turner hadn't bought Hanna-Barbera?

Leviathan

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Universal was in the running to buy Hanna-Barbera in 1991. Fitting, since they had distributed Jetsons: The Movie and had dedicated a ride at Universal Studios to the H-B properties. So was Hallmark, apparently.

If Turner hadn't made the winning bid, how much do you think that would have effected things? I can think of a few things.

If Universal had bought them:

- There wouldn't have been a Cartoon Network. CN's reason for being was to be an outlet for Turner's vast animation library.
- Related to the above, Dexter's Lab, The Powerpuff Girls, et al. wouldn't have made it to being full series or would have gone to Nickelodeon.
- The other H-B properties wouldn't be obscure today. WB infamously let most of the H-B properties fall out of pop-culture memory in order to go all in on Scooby Doo, but if Universal had bought them, the Flinstones, The Jetsons and Yogi Bear would have continued to be big franchises.
- The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera would probably still be at Universal today.

If Hallmark had bought them:
- Hallmark would have shut down H-B and destroyed all their master film elements, like they did to Filmation when they bought them out.
- H-B would be even less culturally relevant than they are today. I don't even think Scooby Doo would have been spared.
 

PF9

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Not only Universal, but Disney could have bought them as well.
 

Low Spark of Lyman

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So, MCA (then-owner of Universal) buying H-B might have been a good idea, and Hallmark, not so much.

If Turner had lost out on H-B, would there have been any other notable animation studios they could have acquired instead? One that would still warrant the creation of Cartoon Network? Just curious.

Not only Universal, but Disney could have bought them as well.
Is there a source for that?
 

PF9

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I also wonder what if Turner merged with MCA instead of Time Warner?

Of course, such a merger could have technically been possible, but because of MCA's ownership by Japanese and later Canadian interests for much of the 1990s, it would have forced a sale of what was then known as WTBS-TV in Atlanta, which likely would have been a non-starter for Turner at the time (they would not relinquish control of the station, now WPCH-TV, until 2011, finally selling the license as well in 2017). This was the same reason MCA had to sell WWOR-TV earlier in the decade.
 

PF9

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Another possibility would have been Turner merging with Disney - which would ironically have given the House of Mickey Mouse the rights to the pre-August 1948 Bugs Bunny cartoons, a situation which might not have sat well with WB. Fine Line would have merged with Miramax while New Line becomes Disney's 4th brand for mature films (after Touchstone, Hollywood, and Miramax). Disney probably would have sold Castle Rock to Sony (which was distributing their material anyway at the time). And with Disney also buying ABC, Hanna-Barbera would produce shows for 1SM.
 

RegularCapital

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Cartoon Network wouldn't of existed or something of the same style of channel would of appeared later, it's as simple as that. I don't think Hanna-Barbera would of survived as Turner breathed new and much needed life into the studio. The studio or at least its properties would of at least be sold to a major media player, especially as there is value in the old IP's, it could of ended up directly acquired by Warner Bros or as Leviathan mentioned - Universal. HB had animated shows that people around the world were familiar with.

Also Turner wouldn't have any international broadcasting clout without CN (with exception to CNN), which would of made it an even weaker takeover target, regardless, I still think that Warner would acquire Turner because of two reasons, Warner was a major shareholder in Turner and Turner had a large chunk of Warner's library.
 
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AdrenalineRush1996

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I thimk things would've been a lot different as in like others said, Cartoon Network wouldn't have existed.
 

PF9

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I think if Universal bought Hanna Barbara, they would make their own animation channel.

It would have had to have been through USA Networks at the time, which Universal then co-owned with Paramount. The owners of USA Networks were forbidden by contract from operating cable networks outside the joint venture. What is now Syfy began as part of this venture.

If it had been USA Networks that launched Cartoon Network, most of the content would have come from Universal. Paramount would have only contributed their 1962-67 theatrical cartoon shorts (which were the only ones they owned at the time), as well as the Filmation shows The Brady Kids and Star Trek: The Animated Series, DePatie-Freleng's The Oddball Couple (an adaptation of The Odd Couple which Paramount had the media rights to at the time) the Hanna-Barbera shows based on Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy (the latter two are spin-offs of the former).

Perhaps Paramount might have been inspired by Universal's purchase of H-B and might have acquired the Filmation library from Hallmark Cards (excepting certain co-productions). Ironically, much of the Filmation library is now property of Universal.

Viacom's purchase of Paramount and subsequent launch of TV Land that resulted in a lawsuit from MCA/Universal would still have forced Viacom to sell their share of USA Networks to Universal in 1997. CN would have ultimately become part of NBCUniversal.
 

wonderfly

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I wonder what would have happened if Disney had bought H-B.

They never would have bought H-B. They despised H-B back in the 50's and 60's, when H-B was at arguably their height. And when H-B was crashing and burning in the late 80's/early 90's, Disney was finding new strength with stuff like the "Disney Afternoon" cartoon block, and the Disney Movie Renaissance.

To the broader topic, I still think there would've eventually been a "Cartoon Network". As cable expanded and grew over the course of the 90's, SOMEBODY would've had the idea to do a network where the aired Flintstones and Jetsons and all the rest. It just wouldn't have been as popular, probably coming on to the scene too late to pose any real threat to Nickelodeon.

We definitely wouldn't have had the great "Nick vs. Cartoon Network" war of the late 90's/early 2000's.
 

Darklordavaitor

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This is an interesting question. One thing I want to note is that I've recently seen someone claim that Hanna, Barbera, and Turner all regret the buyout later in their lives. Admittedly, I didn't see an accurate source, but the logic I saw makes sense. Apparently, Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera both thought that they could've waited a little longer to sell out, and they very likely could've. Meanwhile, Ted Turner was unhappy with how Time Warner handled HB, and wanted to keep the legacy going on.

The latter point especially makes sense, because Warner has not been great with the non-Scooby side of Hanna-Barbera for the most part. From what I can gather, that was mostly on the Time side of Time Warner- AOL primarily seemed interested in Scooby-Doo, not so much anything else, which is why the characters and properties languished in marketing purgatory for so long. The impression I get with Warner is that they were and are more interested in using classic properties like Flintstones and Jetsons, and it does seem like they've been trying to push them back into the consciousness again over the past few years.

It's not working to the extent that their attempt to bring the Looney Tunes has worked, and chances are that it never really will. These shows resonated for as long as they did because even Flintstones and Jonny Quest repeats had better animation and writing than the majority of cartoons from the 70's and 80's, but that just isn't true nowadays. Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry are more timeless by comparison. But Scooby still seems to do well, including the classics, so who knows?

Back to the conversation at hand, I could have seen Universal do well with the characters well into the new millennium. They've always been desperate for animated properties and marketable characters, especially as they try to compete with Disney in the theme park scene. They probably wouldn't need the characters as much over the past few years, with the rise of Illumination and their acquirement of Dreamworks, but who knows. It would be interesting to see Yogi Bear and Rocky & Bullwinkle owned by the same company, instead of Yogi and co hobnobbing with Bugs and the Looney Tunes.

Were Hallmark interested in Hanna-Barbera? I could not have seen that going well, frankly. Animation just does not seem to be their strong suit.

As for Disney, I doubt that would've ever happened. The only time I could have seen them be interested was in the 80's, when the studio was still struggling to find its identity post-Walt and maintain marketability, but it doesn't seem like HB were interested in selling at that point. By the point HB were on the market, the Disney Renaissance was in full swing, and their classics were as marketable as ever. Hanna-Barbera's properties would've stuck out like a sore thumb.
 

PF9

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Like I said, if Disney bought Turner instead of Time Warner, they would have probably kept H-B to help provide Saturday morning cartoons to ABC.
 

Low Spark of Lyman

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How many recent animated productions of non-Scooby H-B properties have there been lately? WWE crossover films for The Jetsons and The Flintstones, Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs (already cancelled), the 2017 version of Wacky Races (also cancelled)...I think that's it. Wait, we could include Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest, since that was a Johnny Quest crossover. I'm not counting Jellystone! yet since that was only recently announced. Any proposed alternative studios that could have had a more impressive track record now?

In regards to The Jetsons, there was an earlier thread where people brought up how the show's focus on the future can be a problem for a modern revival.

Also, would any other studio handling H-B have allowed MeTV to air The Flintstones, as they've been doing for months now? It's not everyday a retro sub-channel airs animated shows, especially outside weekend mornings.
 

Leviathan

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It's not working to the extent that their attempt to bring the Looney Tunes has worked, and chances are that it never really will. These shows resonated for as long as they did because even Flintstones and Jonny Quest repeats had better animation and writing than the majority of cartoons from the 70's and 80's, but that just isn't true nowadays.

I have to wonder if the ongoing transition from live TV to streaming is going to be of aid to the other non-Scooby H-B properties. The lack of TV exposure hurt tremendously, but Jonny Quest, Flintstones, Jetsons and Yogi Bear are all front and center on HBO Max.

That's going to be far more important in the future than TV's rapidly declining ratings and relevance. Plus, unlike what happened with Cartoon Network, the older shows don't have to be worry about being taken off of HBO Max to make way for something new.
 

wiley207

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How many recent animated productions of non-Scooby H-B properties have there been lately? WWE crossover films for The Jetsons and The Flintstones, Yabba-Dabba Dinosaurs (already cancelled), the 2017 version of Wacky Races (also cancelled)...I think that's it. Wait, we could include Tom and Jerry: Spy Quest, since that was a Johnny Quest crossover. I'm not counting Jellystone! yet since that was only recently announced. Any proposed alternative studios that could have had a more impressive track record now?

Heck, I don't think Warner Bros. generally considers Scooby-Doo a Hanna-Barbera property anymore! The Jetsons WWE crossover film, the "Wacky Races" reboot and "Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs" all use this re-imagining of the mid-1970s Hanna-Barbera logo...

...but it doesn't show up on anything Scooby-Doo -related! It's especially unusual with "Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?" given that show has referenced a few other H-B properties (like the "Funky Phantom" cast appearing in one episode, and Mr. Peebles and Magilla Gorilla appearing in another.) In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Warner decides to classify the new Looney Tunes characters of the Bill Hendricks/Seven Arts era as part of the H-B family, given this gaffe made with the prototype cover for that Hanna-Barbera "25 Cartoon Collection" DVD set they made years ago...

Especially given at times those later Looney Tunes shorts do tend to resemble Hanna-Barbera cartoons instead of Warner Bros. Animation. (Ironic, isn't it?)


But back on topic, yeah, I do remember when Turner announced they were buying Hanna-Barbera in 1991, it was thought that Turner would just acquire their animated library for their TV networks and close the studio, the way Westinghouse and L'oreal did with Filmation two years before, but then some were surprised that Turner decided to keep the H-B studio running, especially since they were coming out with Cartoon Network and they could use the studio to produce new content for the channel, as mentioned in that 1991 Cartoon Network presentation reel.
If Disney had instead bought H-B, I would assume that by the mid-to-late 1990s H-B would've been folded into Walt Disney Television Animation, the way they were folded into Warner Bros. Animation between 1998 and 2001. (Ironic, given how in the 80s and early 90s Disney Television Animation was using the H-B sound effects library a LOT in their shows.) And of course I kind of poked fun at that idea when I made a YouTube Poop of Disney's "Robin Hood" years ago, making fun of the movie cutting costs with its' animation (they were going through hard times then) and adding the H-B sound effects and music and calling my YTP "Disney Buys Out Hanna-Barbera!" I've done quite a few other Disney film YTPs since then, but "Disney Buys Out Hanna-Barbera" is still my most popular. I think even the title alone draws viewers!
 
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